The first two days outside of South Fork, CO, consisted of low elevation, high mileage days (22-24 miles a day). We experienced rolling hills, streams, and good weather. As we reached the end of the mapped blue and green alternates, we made our way up to the red line. And this is where it gets interesting...
Sunday, June 6. 11 miles. Ten and a half hours hiking.
Woke up super excited! We would be reconnecting with the red line today after hiking alternates. Early this morning we hiked up Middle Creek Trail, 5.5 miles, with 1700 feet elevation gain.
We reunited with the CDT red line at mile 1043 and celebrated with a view, Triscuit crackers, and Laughing Cow cheese. We made it back to the big league at 10,700 feet elevation. Perhaps we might even use these ice axes and micro spikes we’ve been lugging around.
Reality rudely interrupted my alpine daydream when we passed through the Gate to Snow Hell at mile 1046.4, along the north side of the mountain range. The sky over the valley was dark, filled with storm clouds. Thunder could be heard in the distance. Deep snow drifts amongst the trees, as far as we could see.
We wasted time and energy trying to hike around the snow. Finally determined we had to go through it. The only other footprints on the snow were a pair of snowshoes that never broke the surface. As it was the middle of the afternoon, the snow was wet and mushy with a likelihood of postholing with both feet, getting buried up to our bellybuttons or higher.
So we did the logical thing. We crawled across the snow on our hands and knees. And sometimes we slid down the snow, glissading. Other times we scooted across the snow on our butts. We got super wet and cold. Definitely living in the moment with a keen concentration on getting through this.
We climbed an additional 1400 feet on the red line, making it 3100 feet elevation gain for the day. After hiking a grand total of 4.5 miles in 5 hours on the red line, we bailed on the Silver Creek Trail, catching a snowmobile path down to the highway, where we walked to Poncha Springs.
Feelings about the day: Alive. Engaged. Worried. Culpable. Proud. And at the end of the day, Relieved.